The top crime stories of 2011 include a surprising jury verdict, some unsolved cases and some final justice in some cases from years ago. This year's cases include an acquittal for a Florida mom accused of killing her 2-year-old, justice in an infamous kidnapping, the capture of a long-time Most Wanted fugitive, convictions in more than one home invasion murder case and the execution of convicted cop killer 22 years after the crime.
The not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial can as a shock to many people, except perhaps those who watched it daily on television. The prosecution simply did not prove that Caylee Maria Anthony had been murdered, but less than her mother killed her. Casey was found guilty only of lying to investigators.
After years of delays due to the defendant being declared incompetent in state courts, federal prosecutors finally brought Brian David Mitchell to justice for the 2002 kidnapping of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City. Mitchell's ex-wife, Wanda Barzee, pleaded guilty to state charges in 2010 when she was declared competent to stand trial after being forcibly medicated.
Despite a massive legal and public relations campaign to stop his execution, Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis was executed 22 years after being convicted for the shooting of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Davis was executed after winning a rare ruling from the Supreme Court to have his claim of innocent heard by a federal judge.
Both men who invaded a doctor's home in Cheshire, Connecticut and killed his wife and two daughters were sentenced to death. Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky were tried separately and both were convicted of all counts and given the death penalty for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.
A drifter convicted of the murder of a Georgia woman and suspected in the deaths of an elderly couple in North Carolina, finally saw his criminal career come to a close with a death sentence in Florida. Gary Michael Hilton was convicted of killing, kidnapping and robbing Sunday School teacher Cheryl Dunlap.
Ten years after Washington D.C. intern Chandra Levy was killed while jogging in a park, an El Salvadoran immigrant was finally brought to trial in the case. Ingmar Guandique was sentenced to 60 years and insisted that he had nothing to do with Levy's murder in spite of being convicted of attacking two other women in the same park.
North Carolina residents are still trying to figure out how the stepmother of a cancer-stricken 10-year-old girl with one leg, who was killed and apparently dismembered in a wood chipper, could get such a sweet plea deal. Elisa Baker pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 14 to 18 years for the death of Zahra Baker.